There’s a string of graffiti I’ve been following. It’s in one of the bathrooms of the campus library, and is a discussion of change. It began with a comment about life always flowing, changing course, and ever-moving. The discussion has featured (as far as I can tell) 3-5 different writers, and has touched topics of depression, getting over loss, and countdowns to graduation. The latest ‘installment’ I saw was a direct quote from Disney’s Pocahontas”
“What I love most about rivers is, you can’t step in the same river twice. The water’s always changing, always flowing. But people, I guess, can’t live like that. We all must pay a price; to be safe we lose our chance of ever knowing, what’s around the river bend.”
So this made me think about constant change, which is one of the hallmarks of the Millennial generation – comfort in change. This comes from a great number of influences. Much of the literature suggests that the ever-changing world in which Millennials were raised is responsible: Columbine shooting, advent of the internet, Y2K, the dot-com bubble, 9/11, two Iraqi wars, unstable oil prices, the Great Recession, on and on and on. While I do think there is virtue in this, I wonder how much is also due to the messages we received as children in a positive sense.
I grew up on Disney, as many Millennials did. The theme of accepting change runs rampant though the Disney films produced at a time when Millennials would have been children:
Beauty and the Beast (1991) with a song entirely devoted to “There must be something there that wasn’t there before” and ‘A Change in Me’ opening with the lines “There’s been a change in me, a kind of moving on” moving to “I never thought I’d leave behind my childhood dreams, but I don’t mind” ending in “No change of heart, a change in me.”
Aladdin (1992) give us ‘A Whole New World‘, which is at its heart an invitation to try new things and see new perspectives (which ends up playing out in the end of the film, albeit in a bit different way).
The Lion King (1994) promises in the very opening scenes that there’s “far too much to take in here, more than can ever be found”
Pocahontas (1995) as mentioned above.
…and on and on and on. I believe these positive messages that Millennials were exposed to early-on have greatly impacted the generation’s acceptance of change as much, if not more so, than the catastrophes that occurred. From a young age, this group was taught that what may initially seem to be frightening really wasn’t so bad after all, and could actually be a good thing in the end. Not only that, but this posturing makes the Millennials, in general, open to those with different views, opinions, and styles than their own.
So then it’s no wonder to me that, as Millennials are coming of age, we are taking actions to accelerate the change, rather than stifle it. Take, for example, the ‘issue’ of gay marriage. In a single Presidential cycle (from the 2012 to the 2016 elections), this moved from a decisive issue which was critical to a candidate’s platform, to a non-issue. Oh, there certainly are ‘candidates’ who oppose it, but they’re fringe candidates at best (like Mike Huckabee, who just needs to give up – he’s been trying for too long).
Keep on changing, Millenials – it makes the world at the least an more interesting, and at best a better, place to live.